Friday, January 20, 2012

Competition or Showcase?

Mac or PC? Smooth or crunchy? Pulp or pulp-free? Competition or showcase?

I was recently announcing to my spouse my excitement over the showcase the studio has scheduled for April. He responded with a really good question - "How is a showcase not a competition?" It made me think for a second, because although in my universe the answer is obvious, we have long since established that not everyone lives in my happy little universe.

The answer could be in-depth and probably confusing. But I like to try to simplify things as much as possible. Here goes.

In my ballroom universe, a show dance is an individual, stand-alone, choreographed routine whose prime purpose is presenting a dance for the entertainment of an audience. A show dance would be presented as one of many numbers in a larger whole. The larger whole is typically one of two things, either some type of a show - "showcase" - or a dance competition.

A showcase is the ballroom world's version of a dance recital - an entire evening of routines performed by various students, partly to entertain, and partly to showcase the skills aqcuired. Some of my favorite showcases, and the ones I most enjoy performing in, are the ones that are less like traditional recitals and more like a dance revue or Broadway-style dance show. There are backdrops, set pieces, stage lighting, costume changes, and smooth transitions from dance to dance. For me, all that spells FUN!

A competition is a judged event in which participants compete for a score or placement. Although there is a competition category for show dances at many competitions, there are many more categories assessing proficiency at a specific level of a syllabus with expected patterns and school figures (i.e. not choreography).

Without getting into philosophical nuances about the best competitors being great performers, etc., a simplistic view might be:
showcase = performance;
competition = placement (as in first place, second place, and so on).

Both will do wonders for someone's dancing, even someone who is just learning for social purposes. If all the world is a stage, that would explain why everyone congregates around the dance floor in a nightclub. Even if you are strictly a social dancer, in a very real sense you are on stage every time to step onto the dance floor.

Not trying to scare you off the floor, promise. Just pointing out that the sooner you get accustomed to people watching you dance, the sooner it will quit freaking you out, if it does. The fastest way to get used to it is to get out there in front of a bunch of 'em on purpose. Both competitions and showcases are great for that very thing. If it feels to you like a trial by fire, imagine how much confidence you'll have when you're on the other side of it.

Whether you jump in for fun, or to conquer a discomfort, either way, the result is oh-so-worth it!

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